Harrogate homeless charity's support for 'real change' on street begging

Harrogate may now have its first contactless pay point to allow the public to donate to the homeless via a grant system, rather than giving to street beggars.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 9:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 10:07 am
Harrogate Street Aid is taking a new approach to street begging.

But the chief executive of the town's main homeless charity, which already does so much to care for rough sleepers and street beggars, says people should not think that the new Harrogate Street Aid initiative replaces existing support schemes.

Liz Hancock of Harrogate Homeless Project told the Harrogate Advertiser that she knew it would feel uncomfortable to pass by someone sitting on the street in cold weather without putting your hand in your pocket - but giving money like that was not the best way to help people.

Liz Hancock said: “We’re sympathetic to members of the public and we understand why they give to beggars.

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“It’s really disturbing to pass someone sitting on the street in cold weather but giving money like that is not the best way to help people.

“It ends up supporting street life rather than turning their lives around for the long term. Harrogate Street Aid is an alternative way to help people on the streets.”

Harrogate YouTube star to tackle world's longest marathon in the desertShe said, the new scheme launched by a combination of local authorities including Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire Police was about creating real change versus giving small change.

Liz Hancock said: “It’s designed to make lasting change. It’s an easy way for people to donate knowing their money is going to help an individual turn their life around in a meaningful way.

“Street Aid has already been successful in other places in Britain like Cambridge.”

She said Street Aid would allow people on the streets to apply for grants to help them get off the streets as already happened successfully in other towns.

The HHP boss stressed anyone the money from the new pay point on the window of the M&S food hall would not be going towards the emergency and crisis care already on offer from Harrogate Homeless Project.

In fact, none of public donations via the new Harrogate Street Aid pay point would be going into HHP’s existing pot of funds.

The point of Harrogate Street Aid was to help individuals on the street to change their direction in life.

And the charity would still need public donations as much as ever.

What Harrogate Homeless Project does

Since being set up in 1991, Harrogate Homeless Project, HHP, has provided free emergency direct access accommodation to anyone in need.

For the majority of its clients accessing the service, this involves a hostel room in HHP’s 16-bed hostel on Bower Street which is staffed 24/7.

The charity also operates a town centre day service, Springboard, which provides immediate support to homeless or vulnerably-housed people.